The implications of Hurricane Harvey will affect Texans for months, if not years. For employers who do not subscribe to the Texas workers’ compensation system, there are special considerations that must be made to ensure the safety and well-being of valued employees.
First and foremost, many nonsubscribing employers will have employees performing work that is not a routine part of their normal job duties. In many cases, this will expose employees to hazards for which they have likely not been trained. Nonsubscribing employers with a limited labor supply will often be left with little option but to assign employees to some tasks with exposure to hazards not constituting part of their normal job duties. This may include electrical work, confined spaces, and fall hazards which will undoubtedly increase injury exposure.
The most difficult challenge for nonsubscribing employers is the continued obligation to provide a safe workplace for employers. This obligation is not mitigated, reduced, or in any other way diminished by the circumstances surrounding a hurricane or any other natural disaster. Nonsubscribing employers must ensure that employees performing jobs outside of their normal job duties utilize the requisite safety equipment provided and ensure that rules and regulations promulgated by OSHA and other government entities are followed at all times.
Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, present a plethora of problems that nonsubscribers do not have to face on a routine basis. In order to minimize the risk of employee injuries, the attorneys at KRCL recommend outsourcing potentially higher-risk tasks to third parties who specialize in the work needing to be performed. If a nonsubscribing employer is left with no option but to utilize its current employees to perform work-related tasks outside of their normal job duties, that employer must do all within its power to ensure that the task is performed safely and in compliance with all applicable safety rules and regulations.